2005-01-14 / Columnists

Social Security And You

James Glasser

The start of a new year is a time for new beginnings, and for taking advantage of opportunities. For some older Americans, one of those opportunities may be the annual “general enrollment period” for Medicare Part B medical insurance, which runs from January 1 through March 31.

You are eligible to sign up during the general enrollment period if you: did not sign up for Medicare Part B at your first opportunity; or had Part B coverage at one time but dropped out.

About 93 percent of Medicare’s nearly 42 million beneficiaries are enrolled in Part B. Part B Medicare medical insurance helps pay for doctors’ visits, out-patient hospital treatment and other medical services. Those medical services and supplies include ambulance services, emergency care, eyeglasses, kidney dialysis, nutrition therapy, and more. For more information about Medicare Part B, visit the Medicare website at www. medicare.gov, or call 1-800-633-4227 and ask for a copy of the Medicare & You booklet.

The cost of the medical insurance premium is $78.20 per month in 2005.

However, beneficiaries who sign up now instead of when they were originally eligible will have an additional 10 percent penalty added to their premium for each year they could have enrolled in Part B, but did not. You will have to pay this extra amount for as long as you have Medicare Part B.

If you sign up at any time during the general enrollment period, your coverage will begin July 1, 2005.

If you are interested in enrolling in Medicare or would like more information, you can visit the Social Security website at www.socialsecurity.gov. Or you can call Social Security’s national toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) for more information.

By James Glasser, Manager, Far Rockaway Social Security Center

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